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Mobile Internet subscribers in Congo: 61% increase in 5 years

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Mobile Internet subscribers in Congo: 61% increase in 5 years

The Republic of Congo is rapidly advancing towards digital transformation, aiming to ensure universal access to digital services by 2025. Over the past five years, the nation has witnessed a remarkable 61 % surge in mobile Internet subscriptions, indicating substantial progress in this endeavor.

Growth in digital subscriptions

Achieving the objective of digital transition and universal access to digital services hinges significantly on robust mobile connectivity. Over the span of five years, the Agence de Régulation des Postes et des Communications Électroniques (ARPCE) in Congo has reported a notable 61 % surge in mobile Internet subscriptions. This figure has escalated from 2.1 million in 2019 to 3.4 million in 2023.

Nevertheless, ARPCE’s data doesn’t specify whether this upsurge pertains to the number of users accessing the connection or the activation of SIM cards for accessing services. In the former scenario, the tally reflects the total count of individuals or entities with connectivity, irrespective of the number of SIM cards they possess. Each person or entity is counted once, regardless of the number of devices or SIM cards utilized.

In contrast, the latter scenario involves the count of individual SIM cards activated for Internet access. This metric may encompass several devices owned by a single individual or entity, with each SIM card accounted for separately. Regardless of the measurement method, both scenarios reveal a remarkable 337 % surge in Internet traffic during this period, escalating from 15.9 billion MB to 69.4 billion MB.

Multiple benefits of digitization

This surge in usage is fueled by the Congolese population’s growing engagement with social platforms and networks. The internet is evolving into a vital source for information, social interaction, and entertainment, while also serving as a platform for conducting business and engaging in public discourse on governance. Crucially, it grants access to digital government services and other innovative solutions across pivotal domains of development.

Objective of equitable access to digital services by 2025

Congo is initiating an ambitious national digital transformation strategy called « Congo Digital 2025 », unveiled in August 2019. The primary objective is to guarantee universal access to digital services for all citizens by 2025. Beyond mere accessibility, the overarching vision is to elevate the nation into a comprehensive information and knowledge society.

This initiative encompasses the modernization of telecommunications infrastructure, enhancement of connectivity, and cultivation of Congo’s digital sector. According to Guy Roland Tsimba, Director General for the Development of the Digital Economy (DGDEN), the strategy revolves around three fundamental pillars :

  • e-Citizen : focused on the accessibility of digital services and content for the general public.
  • e-Government : focused on modernizing public administrations to meet specific needs.
  • e-Commerce : focused on promoting digital services and content for businesses.

Digital transformation efforts

Execution of this strategy demands significant financial resources, overseen by the DGDEN, responsible for both managing and mobilizing the required funds. Ongoing endeavors include the construction of data centers, establishment of connectivity through a second fiber optic submarine cable, and fostering fiber optic interconnection with neighboring countries.

Simultaneously, the Congolese government is diligently crafting a robust legal and regulatory framework to underpin this digital transformation. Legislation is being enacted to safeguard personal data, fortify cybersecurity measures, and regulate electronic transactions. These initiatives aim to combat cybercrime while nurturing a secure and conducive environment for the growth of the Congolese digital sector.

Project to accelerate the digital transition

Brazzaville is spearheading a project to accelerate digital transformation in Congo, known as the Digital Transformation Acceleration Project (PATN), backed by support from the World Bank. This initiative aligns closely with both national and continental strategies, including Congo’s national development plan (2022-2026) and the Congo Digital 2025 vision. Moreover, it is in harmony with the World Bank’s Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) initiative and regional priorities for West and Central Africa (2021-2025).

PATN is designed to foster inclusive access to broadband Internet and bolster digital public services. In June 2022, the World Bank granted 100 million USD in financing for this endeavor. Additionally, the project benefits from a 40 million EUR grant from the European Union and a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The initiative’s key focus areas include enhancing the regulatory framework, establishing a competitive market, and financing connectivity in remote regions. PATN aims to benefit diverse stakeholders, including the general population, public officials, businesses, as well as vulnerable groups such as young girls and women. It aims to provide certified digital training to 3,000 individuals and enhance accessibility to digital services for 75,000 people daily.

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